Judge Alan A. Vomacka

FY 2009 - 2014, New York Immigration Court

Judge Vomacka was appointed as an Immigration Judge in July 1987. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in 1970, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Houston in 1977. From 1987 to 1993, Judge Vomacka worked as an Immigration Judge in Harlingen, Texas, then in January 1993, was transferred to New York. From 1977 to 1987, he was in private practice in Houston, Texas, focusing primarily on immigration law. Judge Vomacka is a member of the Texas Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Vomacka decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2009 through the first nine months of 2014. During this period, Judge Vomacka is recorded as deciding 892 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 338, gave no conditional grants, and denied 554. Converted to percentage terms, Vomacka denied 62.1 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 37.9 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Vomacka's denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Vomacka's denial rate of 62.1 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 48.5 percent of asylum claims. In the New York Immigration Court where Judge Vomacka was based, judges there denied asylum 20.7 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Vomacka can also be ranked compared to each of the 270 individual immigration judges serving during this period who rendered at least one hundred decisions in a city's immigration court. If judges were ranked from 1 to 270 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 270 represented the lowest - Judge Vomacka here receives a rank of 119. That is 118 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 151 denied asylum at the same rate or less often. Ranks are tallied separately for each immigration court. Should a judge serve on more than one court during this period, separate ranks would be assigned in any court that the judge rendered at least 100 asylum decisions in.

Why Do Denial Rates Vary Among Judges?

Denial rates reflect in part the differing composition of cases assigned to different immigration judges. For example, being represented in court and the nationality of the asylum seeker appear to often impact decision outcome. Decisions also appear to reflect in part the personal perspective that the judge brings to the bench.

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Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation
Representation

If an asylum seeker is not represented by an attorney, almost all (89%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Vomacka, 8.1% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 14.6% of asylum seekers are not represented.

Nationality

Asylum seekers are a diverse group. Over one hundred different nationalities had at least one hundred individuals claiming asylum decided during this period. As might be expected, immigration courts located in different parts of the country tend to have proportionately larger shares from some countries than from others. And, given the required legal grounds for a successful asylum claim, asylum seekers from some nations tend to be more successful than others.

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Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality

For Judge Vomacka, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from China. Individuals from this nation made up 44.8 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Vomacka were: Nepal (5.3 %), Guinea (3%), India (3%), Albania (2.6%). See Figure 4.

In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were China (28.5%), El Salvador (6.8%), Mexico (5.9%), Guatemala (5.7%), Haiti (3.1%), Honduras (2.9%), India (2.7%), Ethiopia (2.5%), Colombia (2.2%), Nepal (2.1%), Indonesia (1.5%), Eritrea (1.5%), Venezuela (1.5%).

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